Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent has a long history of engagement with non-academic organisations and individuals, dating from the foundation of the University in 1965.
The reach of our School’s research during the REF period has extended to think tanks and policyinstitutes, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), national and international media, legalpractitioners, public policy makers (UK and European parliament and national and international government agencies) and practitioners. Its impact ranges from influencing policy, shapingand informing political and public debate and providing expertise in legal cases, to developing training methods for practitioners.
The School Research Strategy prioritises impact. Our research has been organised into four centres during the REF period and these have been the primary vehicles for cultivating relationships with external, non-HE stakeholders. The four centres have helped focus and target our research, establishing a reputation for work that is relevant to our user communities.
The centres have also provided a distinctive environment to train and mentor staff in order to maximise the reach and impact of their research. Individual researchers have been supported by mentors with a strong track record in influential research, to help disseminate their work to non-HEI users, and to develop their own impact strategies.
The School has maximised opportunities for impact and engagement by investing in support appointments to enhance the dissemination of research, including through social media, and via a series of researcher user workshops and seminars.
The School takes a strategic, planned approach to research impact through developing sustained relationships with a wide range of non-academic stakeholders. We build such relationships in order to enhance the understanding and use of our research outside higher education, and to develop symbiotically the skills of our researchers to gain greater reach and significance for their work. We systematically monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the impact of our research at individual, centre and school levels through the School Research Strategy.
The researchers of the School have engaged with the key users of their research by establishing ‘privileged partnerships’, by building long-term relationships and by providing briefings, commentary and expert evidence. Our formal links with key research users include associated researcher status with influentialthink tanks and policy institutes such as Chatham House (Sakwa and Whitman), the South African Institute of International Affairs (Hammerstad) and ResPublica (Pabst).We have cultivated long-term partnerships with NGOs. These sustained relationships have developed trust, and allowed for the exchange of confidential and sensitive material which has informed the work of organisations such as Reprieve (Blakeley). Our partnerships with NGOs have also brought political and social theory scholarship into the understanding of cultural practices via our work with Arts Council England (MacKenzie). Staff have built reputations for expert commentary, helping us establish strong relationships with national and international media (Aybet [2001-2013], Azmanova, Blakeley, Cunliffe, den Boer, Féron, Pabst, Sakwa, Whitman). We have sought to develop long-term relationships with key media correspondents in order to build their understanding, in addition to simply providing quotes and commentary.
The School has strong links with government and public policy makers. Researchers have established relationships with desk officers, heads of unit and research analysts by providing ‘at request’ briefings and commenting on work-in-progress reports and analysis at the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) (Dardanelli, Korosteleva, Loizides, Sakwa, Whitman); European Commission (Casier, Korosteleva, Whitman); and European External Action Service (Whitman). The School has also encouraged staff to develop relationships with the UK and European Parliaments by providing expert evidence to parliament, writing briefing papers for parliamentarians and contributing to parliamentary reports and briefings for individual members of parliament (Casier, Korosteleva, Sakwa, Whitman). With legal practitioners the School has encouraged the cultivation of relationships to provide expert testimony to legal professionals and jurists in complex cases that require specialist knowledge available due to research expertise (Blakeley, Sakwa). The School has also engaged with practitioners ‘on the ground’ by providing training in conflict management through our Conflict Analysis Research Centre (Clayton).